Order of Worship
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany/Sacrament of Holy Communion
February 7, 2021

Organ Prelude
Call to Worship 
This week’s call to worship is a time of silence and invites people to reflect on different aspects of returning to health and ultimately to self.
You are invited to join in silent prayer by meditating on the images on the screen.

Opening Prayer
God, you play so many roles in our lives.
You model creativity, guidance, humility, and servitude.
Your love is woven within us and is in the fabric of all creation.
You have a compassionate knowledge of each of us,
and how we may become or return to the self and health you have in store for each of us.
It is good to sing your praises, Holy One.

Prayer of confession
Dear healer of every heart,
we seek wisdom, power, and strength to endure and return to whatever you have planned for our birth, life, and death.
May we live as those who seek forgiveness in every breath,
struggling against quick fixes or fleeting pleasures in favour of the joy that comes of knowing that you love us deeply. Amen.

Words of affirmation
Invite the gathered community to quietly focus on different senses as they are available as they listen to these words of affirmation.
What does it look like when we are restored to our full selves?
We gather at the door of the healer.
What does it taste like when we are restored to our full selves?
We know the simple sweet flavour of clean waters that quench our deeper thirst.
What does it sound like when we are restored to our full selves?
We hear the humming of hope in the jungles and the tumbling of pebbles under the creek waters. We hear the rush of winds clearing the smoke and haze from our skies.
What does it smell like when we are restored to our full selves?
We inhale the gentle, familiar scent of comfort and calm.
What does it feel like when we are restored to our full selves?
Our muscles release tension and our bodies know we are surrounded by guiding strength to do what love will ask of us.

Storytelling             “A Letter to Tabitha”
Sharing of Scripture                                 Mark 1:29-39
Message in Music
Message                  “Coming Through Captivity”                   Rev. Laura McLeod
Sacrament of Holy Communion
Prayer of Dedication
We offer ourselves and our resources to the care of community in this space and around the world, in the way St. Paul taught – as chameleons, as servants – adapting our hearts to show love to those who are unfamiliar to us.

A Time of Prayer
Preparation for Prayer
Silent Prayer
Pastoral Prayer and Lord’s Prayer
Who among us has need of support and encouragement? We name those people aloud in the presence of loving community.
quietly reflect on a name or names.
Who are the strangers, orphans, and widows who have yet to be folded into our embrace? We name aloud the cities or situations we cannot engage personally, knowing God will bring us toward them when or if we can be of service.
quietly reflect on global concerns for people and places we do not know personally.
Holy God, we commend ourselves and all of creation to your care and your use. Please restore us to our full selves and purpose. We pray this in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray saying, Our Father…Amen.

One:   And now we share in a common practice of blessing one another. We will repeat it twice.
All:      We may fail; God does not.
            We may end; God does not.
            Bless and be blessed. Amen.

Organ Postlude

Sharing of Scripture                                 Mark 1:29-39
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

A Letter to Tabitha
Based on Mark 1:29–39

Dear Tabitha,

I expect you want news of mama’s health. You knew of her decline; when I last wrote, she was not quite herself. She was so tired out by simple tasks that she took to staying in bed and then a fever came on. It began at sundown and continued through the night. Early that day, Simon and Andrew came home from the synagogue with James and John. They brought with them their friend from Nazareth.
I explained to them all that mama was still feverish, and their friend, Jesus, went straight in and took her hand from under the pile of blankets.
It was quite a sight to see a young man with skill like a nurse or a physician. He took her hand as though she were his own mother. I waited near the bed and watched his face change as he seemed to pray. He was not afraid of her illness or being so close to her frail body. I have never seen anything like it.
Then, almost suddenly, but without any fuss, his body seemed to move with confidence toward her, as though he had lifted hundreds of sick people from their beds. He put his arm around her and lifted her. As he did so, he exhaled a little as if he were suddenly exerting himself, and he seemed serious and tired. His cheeks and forehead became pale as though he had caught her fever as it left her body.
She opened her eyes, turned toward his face, looked into his eyes; they both smiled as if they were old friends. As quickly as he had begun to turn pale and exhausted, it all fell away, and he was put to right again. So was she.
I had missed having her help around the house so much, but I hadn’t considered everything she had done to help keep things in order. When she pulled herself out of bed, stretched and stood up, I felt a rush of emotions. I was a little worried, so I rushed to her side to catch her if she fell. She smiled and embraced me until I felt I might suffocate in the sweet scent of the herbs I had rubbed into her hair. I wept to see her, to touch her, to hope in her recovery for the first time in months.
She demanded we go to prepare a meal and told her son and his friends to bring all the sick women from the neighbourhood so Jesus could help them the way he had helped us – she didn’t say he had helped her or healed her. She was clear: he had helped us, and he could help so many others.
Watch for this man. Pray that he will come to you and your neighbours. Pray for him and the others who will travel with him. They say he is meant to tell stories, to teach about the scriptures and to help us in all our little villages. I hope my letter reaches you in time so you may be sure to meet him and Simon and Andrew when they arrive. You will be so pleased to meet him!

Healthy and happy, your sister,

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